Record #353: Bruce Hornsby and the Range – The Way It Is (1986)

By this point in history, we should all know that genre classifications are by no means a precise art, and that every artist’s work is an amalgam of often disparate inspirations and that compartrmentalizing music is often pointless and sometimes even dangerous. For instance: I have completely ignored Bruce Hornsby most of my life (I was unaware of what the song was Pierce ripped off for his Greendale anthem), until some Pitchfork article brought up his influence on indie darling Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Record scratch.
So I went back and dug into his work, and let me tell you. When I set aside the “cheesy, Middle of the Road 80s soft rock” label, this album is rich. Hornsby effortlessly pairs interesting jazz chords with heartland rock, which is all wrapped up in a gauzy layer of soft synthesizers. While the most affecting tracks are certainly the title track and “Mandolin Rain,” there’s not a bad track on here. Call it dated if you must, but this album is excellent.

​Especially for a debut.

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